Don’t feel bad for the Ford Focus ST or the Audi RS4. It’s not their fault. We hesitated when inviting the Audi because big cars rarely do well in the BBDC contest, but neither it nor the ST were last-placed certainties. The compliments paid to both suggest that it would be possible to argue a case for either winning outright. In the end, though, their daily usability left them slightly less desirable than the rest.
The Alpina’s and Aston Martin Vanquish’s problems were not of desirability but, simply, the quality of the competition. The B3 GT3 has a straightforward approach to driving thrills won it many fans. But the Aston, pleasingly well damped and balanced though it is, comes with a price that our judges couldn’t quite shake from the back of their minds.
There is no disgrace, either, in being a 911. The cooking model finished mid-order, impressed us with its indefatigability on a circuit and whetted appetites for the more sharply focused variants still to be launched. Besides, there are other Porsches here, and the Boxster’s keen balance pushed even the hilarious C63 Black Series off the podium.
There is no surprise in finding a light Lotus and a focused Porsche in the top three: the Cayman R’s second place – by a single point – is the closest a returning BBDC champion has come to retaining its crown.
The victory is taken, however, not by the lightest car here, nor the most powerful, nor the fastest, but by a Toyota that impressed solely with the joy of driving it. That’s as it should be. Life does not reward only the quickest or biggest. If it did, cheetahs and blue whales would rule the earth. Instead, life rewards the most intelligent and adaptable of species, those which can integrate with and mould into their surroundings. The Toyota GT86 and its near-identical cousin, the Subaru BRZ, are cars of that mindset.
Instead of being too fast for the roads on which it finds itself, its lowered limits mean that they can be approached at sensible speeds. Instead of tearing through consumables, it is the only car here for whose tyres we didn’t fear, even though it spent the most time sideways. The GT86 has altered the sports car genre. It is the performance car made relevant again; it is the new supercar. And, as such, it is arguably the worthiest winner Britain’s Best Driver’s Car has had.